Fatigue: A Human Factor in Transportation Accidents

Transportation accidents occur for a number of reasons—including human fatigue.

“These schedules over the past several years are killing me.”  The prophetic statement was made by 58-year old United Parcel Service (UPS) cargo pilot Capt. Cerea Beal Jr.to his co-pilot. The co-pilot, 37-year old Shanda Fanning, responded she had gotten a good rest but remained tired.
Together the two piloted an UPS Airbus that crashed a mile short of a runway in Birmingham, Alabama in August of last year. Both pilots were killed and the airplane was destroyed.

In a February hearing intended to examine aspects of the crash, the pilots spoke from the grave about the difficult of flying “on the back side of the clock.”  Referring to flying at night, the cargo pilots discussed the new rest rules enacted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for passenger pilots. The rules, which require more rest for pilots of planes that carry passengers, do not apply to cargo pilots.

When looking at human factors that underpin deadly accidents, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) breaks down fatigue into issues that include:

  • Number of hours awake
  • Disruption of circadian cycles and time of day of the accident
  • Sleep loss
  • Sleep disorders

Sleep debt occurs when human sleep cycles are continually disrupted. Comments made by Officer Fanning stating thatshe remained tired despite a good night of sleep are a good description of sleep debt.

Whether operating an airplane, automobile, or truck, drowsy driving affects human ability on many levels. If injured in an accident caused by a fatigued driver in Dallas, seek experienced Dallas Personal Injury Lawyer.